It took 24 rounds, but Central Wilkes Middle School’s Ruston Rapoport claimed his fifth Wilkes County Spelling Bee Championship Tuesday night at the Stone Center in North Wilkesboro.

Rapoport dualed several rounds with C.B. Eller Elementary’s Alyssa Wondolowski for the second year in a row before Wondolowski misspelled “prejudice” and Rapoport won by correctly spelling “caravan” and “flabbergast.”

Rapoport is a seventh-grader, which means he has one more year to compete. Wondolowski, a fifth-grader, was in the county spelling bee for the third year in a row.

West Wilkes Middle School sixth-grader Calissta Church, Wondolowski and Rapoport were the only remaining spellers for six rounds before Church misspelled “cough,” leaving Wondolowski and Rapoport.

The misspelled words that knocked the other 14 contestants out of the spelling bee were, in order, “squawk,” “garland,” “shepherd,” “vacancy,” “exploits,” “pamphlet,” “turbulent,” “palindrome,” “cannonade,” “lacrosse,” “glimmer,” “savvy,” “dawdle” and “treadmill.”

Rapoport will now advance to the Winston-Salem Journal Regional Spelling Bee in Winston-Salem on March 15. He first competed in the regional bee in Winston-Salem as the Wilkes County Spelling Bee winner while in the third grade in 2016.

Rapoport received $100 and Wondolowski received $50 from Teana Compeau in honor of her son, Phillip Compeau, who won the Wilkes County spelling bee several times.

Jody Holleman, East Wilkes Middle School instructional specialist, was the spelling bee coordinator. Dr. Donna Cotton, chief academic officer for the Wilkes schools, was moderator/word pronouncer. Judges were Callie Grubb, director of pre-K and elementary education for the Wilkes schools; Kim Call, instructional specialist at North Wilkes High; and Sarah Miles, English teacher at North Wilkes High. Jamey Lambert and Trent Poplin were technical assistants.

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